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Environmental Architecture hero


Alternative forms of co-existence

Key details

  • 180 credits
  • 1 year programme
  • Full-time study

School or Centre

Career opportunities

  • Environmental Architecture graduates are expected to go on to work in a range of fields, from further academic study to roles in environmentalist NGOs, urban planning agencies and design agencies including architecture, landscape architecture and environmental design.

Explore the future of landscapes, environments and ecosystems.

Still accepting applications for 2022 entry. See the Key Dates webpage for round 4 details.

This programme is subject to validation

Earth systems are changing. The globe is warming as a result of CO2 emissions, with dramatic consequences in the form of abnormal and intensified climatic events such as floods or fires. At the same time, a series of related metabolic rifts, from ecosystem loss, to species extinction, ocean water acidification, desertification, and the resulting loss of livelihoods, compound to generate environmental destruction and social tensions in the form of wars, famines and mass migrations. The underlying causes of these momentous shifts lie within the environmental and territorial architectures of capitalist modes of production, globalised through colonisation and development policies, and their discriminatory and racial logics. New environmental architectures are urgently needed.

The aim of MA Environmental Architecture is to constitute a new field of knowledge production and practice concerned with the design of alternative forms of co-dependence between life forms and earth systems. The MA Environmental Architecture is a design-led and field-focused course that emphasises a transdisciplinary approach to design research. The programme proposes an unique approach to environmental architecture education that brings together architectural and ethnographic research methods, with the use of technoscientific tools for analysing, classifying, and producing environmental data.

At the same time, students are exposed to the perspectives of those in the frontlines of environmental struggles across the world, to histories and theories of environmental change, and to the most recent advances in the related fields of environmental law and climate justice.

Through its long-term Research Studio units the programme will provide students with the opportunity to engage with live projects in sites of complex environmental change, to work with experts from other disciplines, such as lawyers, geologists or biologists, and to embark on multiple-day field trips where they will be able to engage stakeholders and meet local communities, while testing and exploring environmental research and analysis methods.

Catch the replays from our November 2021 online Open Day.



The School of Architecture is currently based at our historic Kensington site.

View all facilities

Our studios are the heart of day-to-day activity for the School. Studios are purpose-designed for inspiration and interaction between students of different design disciplines. Studio workspace is provided for each student. In addition, you have access to wood, metal, plastic and resin workshop facilities, as well as contemporary digital fabrication equipment and a suite of bookable project and making spaces.

  • Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

This programme is subject to validation

The MA Environmental Architecture programme aims to expand the scope and content of design-led research in the field of architecture, environmental studies and territorial management. Possible areas of inquiry can include: sustainable forms of urbanisation; concepts of stewardship and care for nature; environmental change and its effect on migration and settlement patterns; climate justice adaptation to land use practices; impacts of resource extraction on ecosystems; environmental impacts of the energy transition; post-development and degrowth; indigenous struggles for land and environments; among many others.

Students on the MA Environmental Architecture programme will have the opportunity to pursue a degree within a world leading art and design institution, and to access the rich culture of radical and experimental interdisciplinary work at the Royal College of Art. Moreover, the programme will help students to establish a network of colleagues and mentors by offering them the opportunity of connecting to leading figures in Environmental Architecture both in London and internationally through an innovative practice mentorship scheme.

This programme is subject to validation

The programme is delivered across three terms and includes a combination of programme, School and College units.

Term 1

In term 1, you will study Studio Unit 1: Architectures of Extraction, and Seminar Unit 1: Metabolic Rifts. You will also be offered an Elective in Term 1.

Across Terms 1 and 2, you will participate in the College-wide unit. This unit aims to support students to meet the challenges of a complex, uncertain and changing world by bringing them together to work collaboratively on a series of themed projects informed by expertise within and beyond the College. These projects will challenge you to use your intellect and imagination to address key cultural, social, environmental and economic challenges. In doing so, you will develop and reflect on the abilities required to translate knowledge into action, and help demonstrate the contribution that the creative arts can make to our understanding and experience of the world.

Term 2

In term 2, you will study Studio Unit 2: Environmental Interventions, and Seminar Unit 2: Critical Future Scenarios.

In term 2 all School of Architecture students will participate in the Media Studies, School-wide unit. The unit aims to increase students’ critical engagement with media and space. Through this unit you will be supported to increase your cross-disciplinary communication and you will be challenged to expand your media practice beyond architecture’s reliance on media as purely representation.

Term 3

The programme culminates in the Independent Research Project (IRP). This unit enables you to apply the intellectual, technical and professional skills that you have developed throughout the programme to a challenging self-set brief. The IRP can be developed either individually or in group, and it should be based on the proposition for intervention developed in Studio Unit 2: Environmental Interventions. This is an opportunity for you to reflect on the theme of the studio while pursuing your own research interests.

In the Studio, Kaiwen Yu

The weekly design studio is the core of the MA programme. Work in the studio is organised individually and in small student groups (2–4 students), and teaching is conducted during weekly group tutorials and pin-up presentations. Work produced in the studio is assessed in mid-term, end-of-term presentations and end-of-term submissions. The submissions follow distinct stages of environmental architecture defined in practice: ‘Brief’ (T1), ‘Strategy’ (T2), ‘Concept Design’ (T3).

The design studios introduce the pedagogy of the programme, provide you with design skills and research methodologies to analyse case studies, while assisting you with the formulation of research and design proposals. The teaching model combines written and design components, as both are considered essential practices in the generation of a disciplinary ecology. Currently, the programme features two design studios, each exploring architecture’s potential contribution to communities and organisations engaged in territorial disputes and resource extraction: 


The Orang-orang and the Hutan Studio

Alentejo Research Unit / Liquid Deserts Studio

Lithium Triangle Research Studio

Borneo Field Trip, 2019, Photo: Christina Leigh Geros

Environmental questions are rarely far from contemporary public debate.

Climate change, global warming, global forest fires, and extreme weather events, mass species extinction, the pollution of our air, seas, land and rivers, not to forget the pollution of our own bodies and food supplies are all daily headline news in print and televisual media.

How should we think about these questions within a school of architecture?

There are three seminars organised across the first three terms of the programme. The seminars require constant engagement and involvement by students in course material selection and preparation, collective discussions and oral presentations.

Past guests: Susan Schuppli, Pedro Neves Marques, Adrian Lahoud, Lindsay Bremner, Nabil Ahmed, Nikos Katsikis, Shela Sheik, RIVAL, Zannah Mae Matson, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Phineas Harper, Imani Jacqueline Brown, Prof. Aran Chadwick 

This unit enables students to explore how architects communicate ideas from both a contemporary and historical perspective. This encompasses a range of media that spans disciplines, ideologies and methods.

Students will use both analogue and digital technologies to understand better how a designer creates, interrogates and manipulates spatial environments.

This investigation will take place in a critical context, which explores how images are used to manufacture socio-political ideologies and negotiate public identities.

Nabil Ahmed

We have an innovative format of partnership with a selected group of professional practices and organisations. In the beginning of your Independent Research Project (IRP), you’ll be paired with a mentor  according to your research interests and work on your proposal for six weeks on-site within the mentor’s installations. In doing so we hope professional practices and organisations might have a foundational role in the development of the student’s IRP. 

Composed of a unique set of practices at the forefront of contemporary environmental design and thinking, our mentors aim to reflect the diversity of perspectives and possibilities within our programme.

Mentors change every year depending on student interests and mentor availability.

Recent practice mentors include:


Atelier 10

Atmos Lab



Hassell Studio

Ian Ritchie Architects


Rival Strategy



Yves Daccord

Vineet Diwadkar

Matilda Cassani


Dr. Samaneh Moafi

Marc DuBois

Claudia Montero - Fundación Desierto de Atacama

Skye Moret

Pippa Howard – Fauna & Flora International

Jess Myers

Dr. Maria Guevara, MD – Médecins Sans Frontières

Nashin Mahtani 

Future Firm

Konstantina Koulouri – Dark Matter Labs

Dane Carlson – REALMS

Tasting Window

Curation, installation, and exhibition are important methods of communication that opens new dialogues about environmental conflicts; while helping creative the threads of research and design travel and form new collaborations. Throughout the programme students have opportunities to show their work within and outside of the RCA.


What you need to know before you apply

Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process will consider creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.

You’ll likely be students of architecture with a 3+2-year Bachelor and Master’s degree, or master-equivalent 5-year diploma preferably in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Urbanism, Urban Design or other related design discipline looking to acquire expertise in large scale, environmental and ecological design projects.

We’ll consider other backgrounds, such as fine arts, social sciences, geography, urban studies, planning or economics, if your prior work is of exceptional merit and you’re able to demonstrate their ability to work alongside and contribute to multidisciplinary teams. Evidence of your intellectual and professional curiosity and a readiness to engage in a rigorous and demanding period of study is essential.

What's needed from you

Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.

Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
  • Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
  • Technical skills appropriate to the work
  • Potential to benefit from the programme

Environmental Architecture is an interdisciplinary programme that aims at exploring the contribution of architecture towards addressing our current environmental and climate crises. We would like you to prioritise projects or other pieces of work that showcase:

  • Ability and interest in addressing environmental and climate issues through design
  • A range of technical design skills (these might take the form of drawing, model making, 3D models, film, photography, writing, painting, performance, exhibition design or others)
  • A range of research methods (this could include academic papers, fieldwork, interviews, documentary practices, environmental analysis or other)
  • Experience in group work and collaborative practices
  • Experience of working with non-academic partners (if possible)

All submitted materials should state if they were done individually or in collaboration, and clearly explain the research methods and design processes that led to the final outcome.

Visit our application portal to view more portfolio requirements

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE) and at least 5.5 in other skills. Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.

You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.

If you need a Student Visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

Fees for September 2022 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

Overseas and EU


New entrants to the College will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees.

Overseas and EU

* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.



Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

More information

External funding

There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.


Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Start your application

RCA students at work (photo: Richard Haughton)

Change your life and be here in 2022

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements and key dates
More information about eligibility and key dates
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Visit our applications portal to get started

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

Email us at
[email protected]
RCA Kensington cafe